Like a lot of people ignorant on the topic, I thought I was immune from ever getting post-partum depression. I knew one girl who had gotten it, and I told J that she wouldn’t have if she’d wanted her baby like I wanted one (no hate mail, please! We know better now, believe me). At the time we had this conversation, we were trying desperately to have a child. I just knew in my heart that I couldn’t have post-partum. I wanted my baby too much to ever have feeling other than adoration toward her.
How wrong I was. I was hearing constant crying, even when she was asleep. I couldn’t sleep myself because of it. Bit by bit, I began to feel resentment toward this precious creature. I begrudged this intrusion on my sanity. I wasn’t eating, I didn’t shower. I just sat on the computer all day and touched her as little as I could. I took care of her; she was fed, changed, and burped. I just didn’t want to interact with her.
I told a few people about my feelings, but no one seemed overly concerned.
“It’ll pass. It’s normal new parent stuff,” they each told me, in their own words. I felt anything but normal, but I didn’t want to push it. Perhaps I understated the severity of what I was feeling. After all, what mother wants to admit that she finds her child less than lovable?
Then the day came that the dam broke. I was sitting at the computer, my eyes glued to the internet. My baby was laying in her bouncer right next to my chair, and I was doing my best to ignore her. However, she began to cry, and I felt myself get annoyed.
I turned toward her and put the fallen pacifier back in her mouth. She continued to cry until it fell out of her mouth, and I reinserted it again. This cycle repeated, and each time she let it fall out of her mouth I felt myself getting closer to hysteria. I was hearing constant screaming inside my head, so when she actually did begin to cry I felt a helpless frustration that words cannot describe.
We went on like this, with my getting more desperate by the minute. Every time I reinserted the paci, she cried louder. What was I doing? She obviously didn’t want it, but I couldn’t think clearly. The next time it fell out of her mouth, my three month old baby grasped it in her tiny fingers and threw it at me. I am not joking. She hurled that pacifier at me, and I burst into tears.
I called my husband at work. “You have to come home,” I told him. “I can’t handle her anymore.”
His job at that time was literally a five minute drive, so he was there in no time. He took one look at her, and she smiled her biggest, sweetest smile. “She looks fine to me,” he said, to my utter amazement.
“I’ve got to go,” he said, turning to leave.
“You can’t leave me alone with her!” I begged.
“Krista, you’re her mother. It’s your job.”
I was so angry at him for not understanding, at her for unintentionally driving me crazy. I was angry at myself—how could I let this happen? I had wanted this. We had practically begged for a baby, and I was doing a miserable job of mothering.
That night, J and I decided I needed to go to the doctor. He informed me that my hormones were completely out of balance, and that I was experiencing post-partum depression. I felt surprising relief. There was something wrong with me, not her, and best of all, it could be fixed. All it took was swallowing a tiny pill every day.
It did its job, and in no time, Ali and I were best friends. I thank God for the wisdom of doctors, and pray that I will never again think I’m immune to struggles others face.